Riders ARE athletes?

When we think about athletes names such as Usain Bolt, Serena Williams, Owen Farrell, Muhammed Ali, might spring to mind.


But how about Ollie Townend, Charlotte Dujardin and Ruby Walsh.


They train like athletes, eat like athletes and think like athletes…THEY ARE ATHLETES!


Now you may be reading this as a committed, driven equestrian who has no doubt of their own athletic ability, trains regularly outside of their ridden work, eats a nutritionally effective diet and foregoes late nights in the pub for a solid 9 hours sleep a night.


But if not, read on.


What ever level you’re riding at, you too are an athlete, as is your horse. Your regime should reflect this. Now there are levels of need here and a partnership who enjoys leisure hacking will not need to be as fit as those competing in affiliated competitions. But you still have a duty to yourself and your horse to be fit enough for your chosen level.


Riders should be aerobically fit, as well as strong and flexible in order to ride as sympathetically as possible thereby reducing their impact on their horse. A rider who is unable to meet these demands will be placing undue stress on their horse and ultimately will be compromising their horse’s welfare. If these statements feel uncomfortable then they may well be relevant to you. So how do we change this? By changing your mind-set!


REMEMBER YOU ARE AN ATHLETE! Give yourself the respect and commitment to improve your own fitness in order to better your riding and your horse’s welfare. Start by taking an honest look at your current level of fitness and where you would like to be. Set yourself some goals and create an action plan of how you’re going to get there.


e.g. “I would like to achieve a 10 lbs weight loss in order to be within the recommended rider/horse weight ratio.”


This goal is specific and it has a high motivator reason behind it, thus making it far more likely to be met. Vague goals such as “I want to lose weight” are much less likely to be achieved as humans find open ended aspirations much harder to adhere to. Your action plan to achieve this goal could be:


To engage in two cardiovascular exercises sessions per week. E.g. HIIT/ spinning.


To ensure a balanced nutritionally dense diet that maintains a calorie deficit.


To drink 2 litres of water per day.


Even if you don’t feel able to own the title of athlete just yet, once you start making these positive changes you will start to appreciate the improvement this lifestyle has on your mind-set. With time your fitness will improve, as will your riding and in turn your confidence in your own ability. At this point you will be able to objectively assess your own goals. You may find that now the barrier of physical ability has been lessened your desire to move up a level in your riding is much higher and you can now look at hitting that next goal in your equestrian career and fulfilling that title of athlete that is rightfully yours.